Last night was another of those nights, the ones your baby just fights through. Those nights make my heart ache, and, I won’t lie here, bring a healthy dose of fear right along with them. Those nights are ugly, tear-filled, anxious, stressful, sleepless, and exhausting.
He’d gone to bed at his normal time. I’d rubbed his oils onto his feet. We read for awhile. He had his Jaws and Kyle plushies. I covered him up in his weighted blanket. Spouse and I were watching some television about an hour later when Little Man came haltingly back down the stairs, tears rolling down his face. We’d heard him banging around in his room for a bit before that, but we were trying to let him work it out, and settle down on his own (something we’ve been working on as he’s been given all the tools to do just this). No go. He was in a full rage, throwing things around his room and stomping from one side to the other. Rage ended, he just started to bawl.
I calmly walked him back upstairs, and re-tucked him into bed. He was still crying heavily. I shoved Kyle into his arms, and pulled his weighted blanket back over him. His words, “I’m afraid I’m going to go insane!” He said he feels like he’s starting to feel *that way* again, as he did when he said those words last year, the words which nearly broke me as a mother. First, I made him promise me he wouldn’t hurt himself last night. Then we started talking about all the positive things going on…this year is so much better than last year. He’s doing well in school. He has new friends. I asked if anyone has been bothering him or said anything derogatory towards him. He answered in the negative. I asked him to tell me one good thing that happened during the day. First he said he couldn’t remember. I told him he needed to think. And he finally told me that going back to school had been a good thing. I asked him more, and got him to re-focus. After about thirty minutes, he was somewhat settled.
Our night didn’t end there. I went up to bed just before ten. He wandered in as we were turning off our lights, distressed yet again. I tucked him back in. He was back less than an hour later. Defeated, knowing there would be no sleep either way, I let him crawl in with us. And it was a very rough night. His sleep was disturbed. Vivid dreams had him thrashing, talking, punching, yelling, and flopping around on the bed. He finally (finally!) settled about 5am. The alarm went off just after six. I’m currently holding my eyelids open with toothpicks, waiting for the caffeine to kick in.
I hate my son has to face days and nights such as this. It hurts me so much to watch him struggle, to see his fear, to hear his pain, and know there’s very little I can do to fix it besides talk him through and remind him of all the tools he has to turn it around. His anxiety is always there, lurking. Sometimes, it’s more than he can mange. Some nights, he battles demons no ten-year-old should have to face. It near breaks me. This is the ugliest side of high functioning autism. He knows he’s different. He knows his brain works differently. His intellect is so high, but where it so diverges from his emotional abilities lies the most difficult struggles.
He’s better this morning, up and out of bed and into the bath without argument, ready to leave for school before I was ready. Even that is hard to take in – the light switch shifts from dark to light in mood. We will continue to fight on, battle through the dark nights, and revel in the bright days.